Years ago Dave and I decided (inspired by an idea from Dave’s brother), that we wanted to create an opportunity for our kids to do some sort of experience/internship away from home the summer after their junior year.

In our opinion, the more different people we can gather to teach our kids, the better. And the more opportunities we can give them to learn and grow, the more they will be prepared for whatever life brings to them.

Broaden & Contribute. (one of our family mottos)

So I am overwhelmed with so much gratitude when I think of Claire roaming the beautiful land of the Netherlands being taught by some of the most wonderful people.

And they are people I’ve never even met.

This wonderful blog reader, Christine, emailed me after she read my post when we were searching for the right opportunity for Claire. She re-introduced herself (we have emailed back and forth in the past, and she actually served a mission in Romania after I did), and she also helped my parents with a parenting conference in Europe years ago. Such a small world!

She offered to have Claire come live with her family for the summer and work with her on their family business.

She explained it best, so here’s an overview from her as to what Claire is doing:

We have a small, family-owned publishing business (Fly-By-Night Press / Travel Europe Through Books) through which we market fiction (novels and short stories) written by my husband Val. I take care of Graphic Design and Marketing, and would be able to use Claire for extra help with photography, some possible blog-writing, and some graphic design / social media work. .. she can use the rest of the time hanging out with my daughters (18 and 15) and son (12), getting to know the area, and maybe learning a bit of Dutch.

We live just outside of Maastricht, Netherlands. Belgium is 15 minutes one way, and Germany is 30 minutes the other way. We are in the heart of Europe!

Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. Founded by the Romans in 50 AD, it has many layers of history. It’s also the place where the EU countries signed the Euro Treaty, which created the Euro currency. I have a video you and Claire can watch about Maastricht HERE. Almost everyone here speaks excellent English, so Claire doesn’t have to worry too much about not speaking Dutch.

Wow. People are so awesome. Can you even believe how nice that is?? We had our feelers out for a few different things, but this just fit so perfectly.

I want to introduce their website which is HERE, but let me share some screenshots too:

I think it is such a cool concept to help “transport” people to other countries right from their own homes through reading these great books that “take you” into different cultures.

Their blog is also HERE, so interesting to read about this American family who have been living in Europe for 20+ years.

From that first email we got to know each other through email and FaceTime…this is when we all got to “meet” up for the first time:

There were all kinds of worries about Covid, of course, but Christine kept in touch with how things were going over in Europe and we kept scanning the news and everything looked hopeful that this could really be a possibility.

At first when we looked for flights, we got this notice with the red triangle below:

Covid-19 test as well as a 10-day quarantine, but by the time Claire left there were no restrictions any more, and we preceded to plan and go forward.

Summer has been crazy, especially for Claire who was trying to earn some money, work her tail off playing volleyball, and had her big Nationals tournament.

But I loved that morning before she took off, just me and her on a little walk in California talking through the world and all the adventure that awaited her. Oh, she was nervous as could be. And I have to say, my mama heart had to do some good work to get ready to let her go.

But she was also so full of positive anticipation. And every time I got worried about this whole deal, I was blanketed with so much peace. It just felt so right and good.

We packed that girl up and headed to the airport all together, and tearily sent her off.

…into the wild blue yonder.

And then suddenly there she was.

Almost a week into this adventure and these are a few of the pictures of her explorations so far:


Follow Fly By Night on Instagram (HERE) to keep up with her adventures!

I miss this girl already, more than I can say. But man alive, she is learning and growing in so many ways and it is pretty beautiful to see!

We are forever grateful for this family for providing this amazing experience! I sure hope she’s earning her keep! Thank you, thank you! xoxo

More ideas for summer internships:

(or “summer experience”…whatever suits you better!)

Theory behind summer internships

Max’s internship in China

Elle’s Internship in London

Grace’s internship in China

(Well, Grace actually went to China the summer after her sophomore year AND after her senior year, and did HEFY in the Dominican Republic after her junior year, so she got extra lucky:)…that post is from the second China trip.)

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  1. Wow. Lots of adventures for your children. So glad to see they haven’t been ensnared ibn the Entitlement Trap.

    1. What a wonderful opportunity for Claire. Seriously, who wouldn’t want their children to have the best experiences and opportunities life has to give them.
      Whether that’s right on your doorstep, the Netherlands or somewhere in between! She’s going to have an amazing time making memories of a lifetime!

    2. I don’t think just because they have many wonderful experiences and can afford to do these things doesnt automatically make them ‘ entitled’ . Maybe I totally read that wrong, if I did, my apologies.

      1. I’m sure they don’t think so either. I do. As much travelling as they already do, as many exotic places the children have already gotten to go by the time their turn for “internship” (LOL) gets here…. yes, they are entitled.

        1. Privileged yes, maybe, but entitled ? We see a tiny glimpse of a persons world on here , why would you think they are Entitled kids?

        2. Well. What kind of VISA is she on? Is it honest? To participate is a foreign exchange for school she would have to compete with others and perhaps take a break from volleyball cause it would not fit the schedule. If she were to do a charity project again she would have to compete with other applicants and perhaps have to adjust her schedule to that instead of doing something that fits her schedule. If she were to get a 20 hr week job she would have to give up some of the volleyball season to do it. Expecting the world to work around your overpacked scheduled is entitlement. Not her, the parents who thought this up. Not even a pandemic where they say not to travel internationally unless it is necessary can stop this cause it is a tradition. I’m glad all the kids have turned out okay. It’s a lot of risk sending your kids off to even the household of other members. Anyone is capable of anything.

          1. I’m quite relieved that Heidi doesn’t understand the “entitled reproach” either. Every time it pops up, I doubt my English. I wonder whether you have to read the Eyre’s book to get a second meaning?

            Who expected whom to work around Claire’s schedule? How is it entitled to use the resources you have and to work an internship (not an exchange etc) in your own busy schedule?

          2. It’s also interesting there is no real experiences outside of the LDS church, all of the travel and “experiences” are with church members, so I’m not sure how much outside culture is really ever gained.

          3. I’m so curious if you actually read this post how it sounds like it would be taking an experience from someone else? I’m also with Heidi and Kerstinek wondering where entitlement comes in. Very lucky and so grateful that this family is generous enough to take on our daughter though! And we have offered the same in return if their kids would ever like to come here (same with the hosts in London and China). We did get our Chinese friends kids here for a few weeks which we loved. I feel like this is just a great opportunity to expand horizons, a win/win for everyone involved. It doesn’t sound like some agree which is totally fine! I so respect whatever works for you in your own parenting! For us, we feel like these experiences for our kids have been incredibly rewarding and we are just forever grateful.

    3. Money is only one element of entitlement. The Eyre’s having lots of money and kids have set great thought the to how much or little everyone gets and publicized that in their books to help similarly rich people do the same. Give the kids enough to do something but not so much as to do nothing. How to keep family peace and fairness in the process. I do not think you realize the Eyre’s believe they are entitled to travel to any place and experience what they want when they want no matter work or school or family obligation that the rest of us would honor. The grandparents travelled and quarantined at each end a lot over the last 15 months. For us it is let up plan to do a few things this summer. For them it’s we have to fit in BYU volleyball camp but can’t because we have the family humanitarian trip, diving class for 2 kids, bear lake reunion, Grammie camp extension days to the reunion, ski trip for the other side of the family, trip to California for our own family, church camp for three of the kids and parent’s who are also participating since it’s trek, summer school for two of the kids to be able to free up a period for seminary and EFY for one kid. So let’s do the week overlapping the first three days of school for BYU sports camp. It’s not like the first 2 choices for BYU camp filled up too fast. It is entitlement. The kids are growing up to be fine adults. But it is an entitlement mindset. I do not think you know what a lifestyle decision and commitment it is for the entire family to participate on travel teams. They are pretty much year round. They don’t leave time for much else.

      1. I still don’t understand how this is entitlement. They have five “kids” (“” because three of them have adults) and are really busy (because nine people belong to the family and I guess because of their personalities). They spend their own money for their activities (I assume). I don’t get how this alledgedly translates to a “the world owes me” mindset.

  2. How wonderful! I love the Netherlands and have lived there most of my life, and will definitely move back as soon as possible. Too bad with the timing and Covid, it really is not the best decision to travel overseas right now. Hope Claire enjoyed her stay. (My heart stopped for a minute seeing the photo of her in front of Rijksmuseum, walking in the middle of the bike path while the other pedestrians know to stay away. You learn this very quickly in the NL: never ever walk on the bike lane. The bikers will put you in your place very quickly. 😉 It’s a great practice of awareness.)

  3. I read several blogs that uplift me, including this one. I have never commented but feel like I want to today. For the life of me I do not understand why anyone would read or follow anyone just to make negative comments. If I know longer feel inspired by a blogger, I just quit reading. Making comments that are judgy, snarky or unkind would bring such negative energy to my life. I believe we receive back in our lives what we give out, and who needs anything negative? I love that Shawni and Dave have worked hard and been financially rewarded. I love that they are generous with their means. I love that they are teaching their children to truly live and experience all they can. I love that they try new things. I love that they love to travel and share their experiences so beautifully. I know they have challenges and bumps in the road just like we all do, but Shawni is great at being kind and positive. I love that they have worked hard and created a great life. Let’s all do the same in our own spheres.

    1. Thank you so much Kay S! I have read this blog for years and have only commented with a thank you congratulations. If it’s a subject I don’t agree with that day I move on. I love reading the experiences of this family and their love for one another. Thanks again

    2. Thank you guys! I so love reading the experiences of others as well. Such an interesting insight into how others think, even all these comments make me think and ponder how others feel so I really am grateful for all of them. Thank you, dear commenters here, for your kindness!

  4. Some of these comments remind me of a quote by Jeffrey R. Holland: “ Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is—downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment! To say nothing of the chagrin in the end, when we find that God really is both just and merciful, giving to all who stand with Him “all that he hath,” as the scripture says. So lesson number one from the Lord’s vineyard: coveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live.”

    Let’s be kind, even when we’re behind a screen. It’s a happy way to live.

    1. I actually feel bad for them. They are over scheduled, do things earlier than they should and will hard a hard adjustment at an adult age after mission to not have themselves occupied in a structured way 52 weeks a year. Unless they all work for a family business allowing for such odd and abundant time off they will feel deprived of vacations in frequency and length.

  5. Sure love that you are so INTENTIONAL with your family and with raising your kids! Your efforts to write and share your family on this blog over and over through the years has no doubt helped you get additional opportunities for your kids and their internships…that is blessing and one you are deserving of! Thanks for continuing to share your light, knowledge and family life even though too many people hide behind their screens to judge you. I have no doubt your kids will reach higher for things in life, both in giving and in working, because of the things you have exposed to them and the ways you have pushed them to work, earn and learn! You are great parents and Claire is going to grow so much through this experience, just like you are hoping for.

    1. Thank you Jen. xoxo We have so much to learn in the parenting category, of course, and we’ve sure made a whole slew of mistakes, so thanks for seeing the good!

  6. I appreciate these glimpses into your lovely, intentional family life and traditions, and hope you’re not discouraged from sharing by the sour grapes that are inevitably hurled at you. Please keep it up! Much love.

    1. Thank you Rivka. I’m actually quite intrigued by the “sour grapes.” Everyone is coming from such different perspectives. I do wish the best for everyone on their own journeys to figure out life.

  7. Yay! Hand over heart! I lived in Belgium my Junior year and it changed my life forever for the better… so many wonderful lessons, experiences, and eternal friends made! I felt like I could have lived there forever and still do… when I left everyone at home said “Have fun in France!” A little known area of the world by some, but a truly wonderful place with the best of people and so close to everything! All the best, Claire! Excited for your adventures!!

    1. Claire is going to Belgium this weekend, so excited for her! And thanks for sharing that your experience there changed your life the better. Claire, although she is only there a short time, is already realizing this is doing the same for her.

  8. I think different experiences work for different people; including our kids and teens. Some kids love (and thrive) going to sleep away camp for weeks over the summer and some hate it and shouldn’t be forced to go. We all have preferences for things large and small. Some folks get married religiously, some civilly, some both. It’s all good. Some families opt to have a stay at home parent and some have two parents with rich careers outside the home. Both can work really well.

    I bristle at one size fit all thinking (especially patenting) like “all kids must travel internationally on their own between jr. and sr. year.” International internships might make a lot of sense educationally and professionally for some but turn into babysitting in a foreign country to fulfill a “requirement” for others. I think as parents it’s important, and difficult, and necessary to set aside most of our preconceived ideas of “shoulds” when it comes to our kids, teens, and young adults.

    There’s no one for formula for fulfillment, happiness, productivity, and joy.

  9. Thanks for all the thoughts on this post. Thank you for all who shared kindness and for the others who also made me think! I know there are so many different parenting ideas out there, thank goodness, because there are so many different kids to raise too! But I hope we can all just follow our own intuition and judgement as we do this, the most important job in the world: raising human beings. How I hope in whatever way we do it, we can follow our own hearts and connect and love our children in the ways that only we can.

  10. This is a great experience for Claire. I hope she is enjoying it.

    One thing I’m confused about tho – I don’t mean this as juding you – why did the family that she’s staying with have to be LDS?

    Maybe it’s different for me. as I’m the only member of the church in my family & didn’t grow up around other members. Even now I only really see members on a Sunday.

    1. Good question, the family certainly didn’t need to be members of our faith. It just so happened that way. We would have been open to send Claire to live with a family who didn’t share our same faith, as long as they shared our same values. I think that would add to her experience in so many ways. But it was so nice to have some previous connections, and sometimes those connections come because you happen to be members of the same church. I do love that they have scripture study every day and that Claire is getting so much from doing that in a different family. This having members of our faith hosting our kids wasn’t the case with Max and Grace who spent their summers in China with friends from Dave’s work, and they learned so much that way as well.

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